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Birds of Paradise

The Birds of Paradise is one of the most colorful flowers in the world. The name Bird of Paradise comes from its spectacular flower shape which resembles a bird's beak and head plumage.

birds-of-paradiseBirds of Paradise, also known as Crane flowers is one of the most beautiful Exotic Flowers. Birds of Paradise are native to South Africa. Birds of Paradise bloom from September through May.

The flowers of the Birds of Paradise resemble a brightly colored bird in flight and so the name Birds of Paradise.

Kingdom
Plantae
Division
Magnoliophyta
Class
Liliopsida
Order
Zingiberales
Family
Strelitziaceae
Genus
Strelitzia

The unusually beautiful shape and brilliant colors of Birds of Paradise have made these flowers not just a designer's favorite, but also a popular symbol of paradise.

The popular Birds-of-Paradise plant bears a unique flower that resembles a brightly colored bird in flight, giving it the common name, Bird of Paradise. The Birds-of-Paradise flowers make the plant an exceptionally attractive landscape plant.

The Birds of Paradise foliage resembles small banana leaves with long petioles. The leaves on the Birds of Paradise plant are arranged strictly in two ranks to form a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage, thick, waxy, and glossy green, making it a very attractive ornamental plant.

The leaf blades are 6 inches wide and 18 inches long. The Birds of Paradise plant usually reaches a height of 4 feet. Birds of Paradise flowers are produced in a horizontal inflorescence emerging from a stout spathe.

The Birds of Paradise flower inflorescence is borne atop long scapes, or pedicels, that grow to 5 feet or more in height. The flower on the Birds of Paradise plant is the most unusual part.

A series of highly colored bracts, or modified leaves, are formed into green, red, and or purplish canoe-like structures. Bracts vary between 4-8 inches long, depending upon the age and size of the Birds of Paradise plant.

Each Birds of Paradise flower is made up of three upright orange sepals and three highly modified vivid blue petals. Two of the petals are joined together in a structure resembling an arrowhead with the third petal forming a nectary at the base of the flower.

Each bract contains 2 or more protruding Birds of Paradise florets of bright yellow or orange elongated petals and a bright blue tongue. The female part of the Birds of Paradise flower is the long extension of the blue tongue, which is extended well away from the stamens.

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Pollination in Birds of Paradise

When a pollinator, usually a sunbird, lands on the arrowhead in search of nectar, the anthers are levered clear of the Birds of Paradise flower and deposit pollen on the breast of the bird. When the bird flies to another plant, this pollen is transferred to the stigma of the new flower.

Then the resulting fruit is a leathery capsule containing numerous small seeds, each with an orange aril (an outgrowth from the seed similar to the red sheath around yew seeds) and an oil body, possibly to attract birds.

Facts About Birds of Paradise

  • Birds of Paradise are the mid-sized staples of tropical bouquets.
  • Birds of Paradise need to be bound together, or supported in some way in larger vases and may bruise smaller flowers.
  • Birds of Paradise are often thought of as the symbol of tropical flowers.
  • Birds of Paradise are medium-sized exotic blooms that instantly evoke palm trees, but do not last longer than a week.
  • The name Birds of Paradise comes from the spectacular flower shape, which resembles a bird's beak and head plumage.
  • Because of the banana shaped leaves and other plant characteristics Birds of Paradise was classified in the banana family Musaceae.

Some More Popular Species of Birds of Paradise

  • Strelitzia alba/syn. S. augusta - White Birds of Paradise
  • Strelitzia caudata/Swaziland Strelitzia - African desert banana
  • Strelitzia nicolai - White, or Giant Birds of Paradise; Wild banana
  • Strelitzia reginae/S. parvifolia - Strelitzia, Birds of Paradise, or Crane lily

Growing Birds of Paradise

  • The soil around Birds of Paradise plant needs to be kept moist all spring and summer but should be allowed to dry out slightly between watering in the fall and winter.
  • Try to avoid temperatures below 50 degrees. Birds of Paradise need indoor temperatures.
  • Feed your Birds of Paradise every other week during spring and summer with a liquid such as Schultz's Instant Plant Food or a water-soluble fertilizer such as Bachman's Excel-Gro, and a quality peat-based potting soil.
  • Cut back to once a month in fall and winter.
  • A quality peat-based potting soil such as Bachman's Exceloam is perfect for the Birds of Paradise plant.
  • When Birds of Paradise plants are young and actively growing, repot them every spring so that they have plenty of room.
  • As the Birds of Paradise mature (and have bloomed for a year or two), they can be carefully divided. Remember that this will keep the plant from blooming again for several years! Birds of Paradise are also propagated from seed.

Birds of Paradise Plant Care

  • The Bird of Paradise does require a good amount of sunlight.
  • Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system for the Birds of Paradise.
  • Watering can be reduced after establishment.
  • Feed Birds of Paradise plants with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.
  • Floral preservative for Birds of Paradise is recommended and is available commercially.

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